Review: Greatest Days at the Palace Theatre has ‘a huge heart and is full of humour’

At the Manchester Palace Theatre, Greatest Days is a heart-warming story of friends reconnecting after years of separation to the music of their favourite boyband.

Co-directed by Tim Firth and Stacey Haynes, the show brings the feels, the laughs and the music of Take That for a fun musical with a lot of heart.

The plot follows Rachel (Kym Marsh) who after winning a contest to see her favourite boyband in Athens decides to invite her friends, Heather (Rachel Marwood), Claire (Jamie-Rose Monk) and Zoe (Holly Ashton) who she hasn’t seen for 25 years to try and fix their friendship after circumstances ripped their friendship apart.

The first act focuses mainly on the group’s younger selves when they were at school. With diving athlete Claire (Mari McGinlay), the popular Heather (Kitty Harris), university-bound Zoe (Hannah Brown), Rachel (Emilie Cunliffe) who uses the music of her favourite band to distract herself from her home life that is falling apart and Debbie (Mary Moore) the heart of the group.

All five girls are united in their love of their favourite band and Debbie’s plan for them all to meet their idols acts as the main plot of the first act.

While the second act focuses on the girls meeting up in Greece as they try to build bridges and make up for lost time.

The first act starts slow but once all the girls are on stage together and the action and dialogue begin to flow the show takes off eventually building to an impressive ending number of Rule the World.

Alongside the girl’s story is The Boyband (Kalifa Burton, Archie Durrant, Regan Gascoigne, Jamie Corner and Alexanda O’Reilly) that the girls idolise who follow along in the background of the girls’ scenes, symbolic of the girls bringing their favourite music along with them throughout their lives.

This sees The Boyband don many different roles from airport staff to Greek statues as they act as stand-ins for Take That and deliver excellent choreography (choreographed by Aaron Renfree) and vocal performances with impressive renditions of songs such as The Flood, Shine and Patience that are brought to life with vivid costumes (costume designer Lucy Osbourne).

The real strength of the musical is the characters as both sets of girls, past and present play off each other greatly with lots of quick wit and humour.

The script is snappy and well-written (by co-director Tim Firth) with lots of laughs and wholesome moments that feel earned.

All the characters feel like real people with real problems.

Their chemistry on stage is a joy to watch as they try to track down their idols both in the past and present and learn new things about each other and discover themselves along the way.

Also, two performances that cannot be forgotten are that of Dave and Jeff.

Dave (Alan Stocks), much like the boys of the band, is a man who plays many roles from bus driver to airport security to even a Greek police officer.

Stocks plays the part perfectly and is always a good source of comedy throughout the play.

While Jeff (Christopher D Hunt) is Rachel’s long-term boyfriend and although his time on stage is short, Hunt makes every second count to keep the audience entertained.

So, if you’re in the mood for a musical book a ticket at Manchester Palace Theatre for fans of Take That past and present or looking for a show with a lot of heart and good humour then Greatest Days is the show for you.

Greatest Days is on at the Palace Theatre from 16 – 27 May.

You can get your tickets by clicking here.


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